Our Submission to The Dept. on Dublin to Clifden Greenway

Our Submission to The Dept. on Dublin to Clifden Greenway

Connemara Chamber of Commerce’s submission to
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
on the Public Consultation on the Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan



On the 16th of December 2016, The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on the Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan

The Chamber made the following submission in regards to the Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan


Sustainable Transport Division,
Department of Transport,
Tourism and Sport,
Leeson Lane, D02 TR60.
[email protected]

Connemara Chamber of Commerce,
Market Street,
Co. Galway.
095 22785 | 087 7784856
[email protected]

27th January 2017

Re: Submissions & Observations to the ‘Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan’.

To Whom It Concerns,

As per the public consultation period of the Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan, we have reviewed the draft plan and make the submissions and observations in this document. The Connemara Chamber of Commerce is based in Clifden, Connemara, Co. Galway, has a high membership level and is a very reflective representation of the views of the business community in the Connemara region.

6 Major Elements of Our Submission

  1. The proposed greenway should be primarily a ‘segregated greenway’ and not primarily an on-road cycle/walking route
  2. It’s vital to keep land owners/occupiers on-board & on-side
  3. A seamless connecting link between the Dublin to Galway city leg and Galway to Clifden leg is critical as is seeing through the entire project (with no gaps) as fast as possible
  4. Better communication of the benefits of such a greenway to all stakeholders, addressing concerns much earlier & communication of the progress of the project is necessary
  5. Get community involvement all along the way
  6. Minimise the disturbance to local residents/businesses along the greenway and reduce environmental impact on locality via a visitor management strategy

In summary, Connemara Chamber of Commerce is fully supportive of vision, policy and stated objectives of the plan and would hope that our submissions will be taken into consideration for all sections of the proposed Dublin to Clifden Greenway. Please read further for more details.

Yours Sincerely,

Terence O’Toole
President – Connemara Chamber of Commerce



The Dublin to Clifden Greenway is of critical strategic importance both nationally and locally to the Clifden and Connemara region. From an economic, social and environmental perspective, we are making the following six submissions and observations thereafter to the Draft Dublin to Galway Greenway Plan.


  1. The proposed greenway should be primarily a ‘segregated greenway’ and not primarily an on-road route
    As per the stated vision of the draft plan, a segregated cycling and walking trail is vital for the success of this proposed greenway.

The European Greenways Association defines a ‘Greenway’ as “communication routes reserved exclusively for non-motorised journeys, developed in an integrated manner which enhances both the environment and quality of life of the surrounding area. These routes should meet satisfactory standards of width, gradient and surface condition to ensure that they are both user-friendly and low-risk for users of all abilities.”

We stress that the proposed greenway follow the definition above. This will ensure this greenway is car and traffic free and be developed on disused railways and canal ways etc. and away from main roads. We ask that the plan not deviate into using (sometimes easier, cheaper but very short-sighted) existing ‘Country Roads’ instead of a dedicated /segregated route.

Visitor Information Centres in the Clifden area will tell you of the disappointment that visitors feel when they arrive to cycle Connemara – where there are many ‘Country Roads’ which they assume will be quiet. This is absolutely not the case. A case in point is the ‘Clifden Cycle Hub’ is which is composed of 4 major ‘cycle paths’ encompassing Clifden. These are in fact just main roads which accommodate heavy bus and car traffic from March to September. The traffic issue is further compounded by the success of the Wild Atlantic Way marketing initiative, while extremely welcome in the Connemara region, through increased traffic it is contributing to a poor on-road cycle and walking experience for both locals and visitors. It may be tempting to go for the ‘country roads’ approach in large parts of the country but in reality, any type of greenway that takes this approach is short-sighted and would force walkers and cyclists (local and visitors) to walk/cycle on highly congested and narrow roads. Now is the time to build quality off-road cycling and walking routes in Connemara and further afield. The recent development of the hugely popular Derrigimlagh Signature Discovery Point (itself an off-road leisure facility) outside Clifden demonstrates the payoff for investment in such projects. It is a bold but worthwhile ambition to create a segregated greenway from Dublin City to Clifden.

According to Trip Advisor – the number one tourist attraction in Co. Mayo is the Great Western Greenway. This is not an accident. That Greenway in particular is very much a Segregated Greenway and is primarily off-road, user friendly and very much enhances the environment and quality of life in its surrounds. Substituting an off-road approach with other alternatives such as the along ‘quite country roads’ will result in a poor cycling and walking experience for locals and visitors alike.

  1. It’s Vital to Keep Land Owners/Occupiers On-Board & On-Side
    Where valid alternative routes for the greenway are offered by landowners, the greenway developers need to take such offers seriously and engage in further consultations with these landowners/occupiers to come to an agreeable on a route agreeable to all. All efforts need to be made to secure landowner’s permission and avoid Compulsory Purchase Orders. The Mayo Greenway Project is a fantastic example of how the ‘permissive access’ model can be a viable option to keep all parties happy. This ‘permissive access’ model is already underway in sections of the Connemara Greenway at present.
  2. A Seamless Connecting Link between the Dublin to Galway City Leg and Galway to Clifden City is Critical
    While we note that this draft plan ‘is generally text based and does not identify the route for the greenway’, we very much urge consideration is given to having the connection of the Dublin to Galway leg of the proposed Greenway, link seamlessly to the Galway City to Clifden leg and not require cyclists and walkers to have to make use of city roadways to get from one leg of the greenway to the other. At the same time, we urge the future greenway to be connected into existing and any future planned public or private transport hubs to maximise its potential.

Continuous Greenway – No Gaps
The delivery of continuous greenway (without any gaps) from Dublin to Clifden would be an exciting prospect and would make one of the best cycle/walking routes in the world. We urge the Department of Transport to see through its vision of the entire route as quickly as possible to realise the benefits to the whole country.

  1. Better Communication of the Benefits of such a Greenway to all Stakeholders, Addressing Concerns Much Earlier & Communication of Progress of the Project
    We encourage better promotion in the media of the benefits of the greenway to stakeholders, especially to those who are directly affected by the proximity of the greenway to their property and business. Also, clearly addressing (early on) the concerns of stakeholders like farmers and other businesses along the route of issues such as crime, insurance, crossing of private land, dogs, and so on needs to be done. Stakeholder, businesses and groups need to be kept informed and updated of the progress of the plan. The draft plan goes into extreme detail on environmental considerations but an equal level of consideration should be given to the landowners, occupiers, and local residents.
  2. Get Community Involvement All Along the Way
    There will undoubtedly be an economic benefit to the general sphere of tourism businesses at the start, along and at the end of the greenway, however there is a direct benefit to the community along the way which take the form of opportunities for trade from passing cyclists but also from maintenance type schemes such as the rural social scheme, community employment (CS) schemes and the like. This should be highlighted when persuading stakeholders to get on board. We also ask that traffic counters are implemented to record the usage of the greenway.
  3. Minimise the disturbance to local residents/businesses along the greenway and reduce environmental impact on locality via a visitor management strategy

Local Community, Businesses, and other stakeholders along the Greenway
We ask that particular attention is given to homes and businesses along the route and any reasonable requirements they ask for are delivered. Farms, Businesses, Homes, Rights of Way and Ways of Life all need to be respected for the future success of the Greenway. We ask that a lot more engagement with these stakeholders is carried out to minimise any disturbance to existing ways of life.

 Protection of sensitive environmental areas
The Connemara section of the greenway is particularly environmentally sensitive and covers many SAC’s. We ask that there is a Visitor Management Strategy to deal with increased visitor numbers to these environmentally sensitive areas. We encourage the development of such infrastructure but also wish to retain what keeps this area unique. Any such Visitor Management Strategy should for instance, have clear signage to marshal users of the greenway to keep within defined routes, operate the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles and respect landowner’s property and dwellings.

There is large local support in the Clifden and Connemara area for the proposed Greenway.

Benefits – Economic
– Big development – This is potentially the biggest single most important business development for the Clifden and Connemara region in decades. Connemara has not attracted large factories and nor does it have a large population density to sustain itself. Investment in a tourism product like this has a direct economic return on investment. The Fitzpatrick’s report commissioned by Fáilte Ireland on the economic impact of the Mayo Greenway notes:

“Estimates derived from the study suggest that all direct expenditure associated with the Greenway would contribute to a projected €7.2m in spend in the local economy over a full year in 2011.

There is no reason why the Galway to Clifden leg of the proposed Greenway could not match or exceed this type of contribution to the local economy.

– Increased tourism all year round – the Connemara region has a short peak season, typically 6 weeks of significant business. The proposed greenway will greatly extend the season.

– Reduction of social welfare bill – Such a greenway will directly reduce the burden on the state of social welfare payments as there will be a longer employment

– Compliments existing tourism businesses – It compliments existing cycling businesses in operation throughout Connemara as well as the general tourism industry


Benefits – Social
Less rural depopulation and reduced movement from rural areas to large towns/cities – It will help stem depopulation of this rural area and reduce the general pattern of moving to cities and large towns.

Reduction in Emigration –  It will reduce emigration by creating a longer tourist season and fostering new types of tourism businesses.

Reduce Isolation and improved mental health – it will reduce rural isolation by opening up large areas that have gone in to major decline and it will improve the mental health of the local population

Fitter communitiesequals better health and reduced pressure on hospitals and health services
Benefits – Environmental
– Greater appreciated of natural heritage –  Investment by the state in this type of development will have a direct environmental benefit as the perceived/actual economic dividends to the area from this highly sustainable type of industry instils a greater appreciation in the youth of what we have environmentally on our doorstep.

– Preservation of uninterrupted views – It also reduces the potential for unsightly developments along the route itself.

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